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Historic Johnson City hotel restored and open to the public

In 2019, Charlene Holden-Crump bought the old historic building on the square in Downtown Johnson City, restoring it because of nostalgia.

JOHNSON CITY, Texas — There are times where, to find something new and exciting, we need to actually look into our past.

If you don't believe me, let's look around the Historic Pearl hotel in Johnson City.

"We're at the historic Pearl hotel downtown on the square in Johnson City, Texas," said Charlene Holden-Crump, the owner of the Pearl. "I think it's probably the oldest building in Johnson City. It actually was built as a hotel, and was completed in about 1880."

It's not every day you get to step inside a piece of history, but that's what I got to do with the tour by Charlene Holden-Crump.

"Do you mind showing us around a little bit?" I asked Holden-Crump.

"This is a pretty typical entry where we have a parlor," Holden-Crump started. 

Moving room-by-room, we looked into pieces of history. Walking toward the back, you could see where the original owners had added on.

"You can see where it's changed," I said.

"You can actually see the layers of history in this case," Holden-Crump replied. "Quite literally.'

Holden-Crump bought the building in 2019. Now, she's fully restored it to a working hotel. 

The only modern touches: an ADA compliant bathroom and an improved kitchen.

"We couldn't tell exactly how it was originally," Holden-Crump explained about the change to the kitchen. "But we did keep the sink where the sink was and build from there ... A lot of antiques and collector's items here from a number of different people from around Johnson City. They've been very generous with us."

From the beaten-in threshold to the tree that might be the oldest in city limits all the way to the small bedrooms upstairs, the whole thing has been restored.

"I mean, this was a hotel when it opened and you've kept that too?" I asked. 

"That's correct, this was primarily built for the cattle drivers who were going through town. That was the industry that the Johnson family who built the hotel ... they were in the cattle business," Holden-Crump said. 

Did you notice the name of the family: Johnson? It's the people who built the town, the hotel's name sake, the oldest daughter: Pearl.

So why buy an old building and put the time and effort in to restore it? For Holden-Crump, it comes down to nostalgia. 

"It brings back memories to me, I walked back memories to me that I walked back this building going to school, going to public school," Holden-Crump said. "I made up many many stories about it as I was going along, it was everything from a mansion to a haunted house, to who knows what."

But what it was ... was a piece of history. That's something Holden-Crump is hoping will stay.

"When you're a child it can be anything you want it to be," Holden-Crump said. "So I've had fun living those fantasies now that I've been able to afford to do this."


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